Joe Hak: Lineman’s Rodeo Winner

By Constance Clouston

Joe Hak – Lineman’s Rodeo Winner – Proud To Be Wearing Two Uniforms

joe-hak-rodeo-trophy-12-2-16A member of Delta Company 249th Engineer Battalion in Cranston RI, Army Reserve Sgt. Joe Hak is also a lineman in Transmission Line Services, New England. But he puts on the same type of hat in both roles, serving as a lineman in the military as well. Although Joe’s day job involves transmission lines, his military focus is distribution lines. As a result of the skills he acquired in both areas of his life, he was selected to participate on a team of three representing the Armed Forces at the 33rd Annual International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo in October, in Kansas City, MO. His team, which included fellow Army reservists Eric Elder and Robert Grzela, took first place overall in the rodeo’s military division.

According to The Lineman’s Rodeo web site, the event “attracts the best linemen from around the world to compete in events based on traditional lineman tasks and skills. The first Lineman’s Rodeo was held in September 1984, with twelve participating teams from Kansas and Missouri. The Rodeo has grown to over 200 teams and 250 apprentices.”

They competed in the following tasks:

  • Speed climbing event – This entailed successfully climbing a 40-foot pole with an egg in a bucket joe-hak-rodeo-pole-event-12-2-16then transferring the egg to their mouth and making the descent without breaking the egg.
  • Equipment Repair – Two men climbed the pole while one remained on the ground working a hand line to send up equipment. They had to safely remove and replace the damaged equipment, descend the pole, wrap up the hand line and place it on the tarp in front of the judge before time ran out (15 min. limit).
  • Transformer change out – This required simulating a safe change out of a transformer. Two linemen climbed a pole and rubbered-up the lines connected to the transformer (using rubber blankets and hoses) in case of incidental contact. The conditions that day were windy, increasing the challenge. They had to disconnect all electrical components then all three men had to pick up the transformer and guide it safely to the ground with ropes and a sling. The ground man had to switch the sling to another transformer and raise it up the pole for installation. Once the linemen descended the pole safely, the ground man repositioned the transformer door to complete the task. (20 min. limit)
  • Hurt man rescue – The team had to simulate a situation where a lineman (in this case a dummy) experiences an electrical contact and can’t descend a pole. They had to start the competition completely unequipped, putting all their safety gear on while the clock was running. Strict emergency protocols had to be followed in order for the rescue to be considered successful. This was all done in less than two minutes from start to finish.

Joe was proud of his role in the event. “The company set me up for success,” Joe said, adding, “They’ve given me the tools and training necessary to compete and win. I feel good about being able to use all I’ve learned, which also supports my role in the military.”

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One Comment

Mike A

Joe, thanks for your service to the country and for the skills you bring to National Grid. Well done.


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